STATEN ISLAND, N.Y. — Medical consultants predict a extreme flu season this yr, and are urging residents to get the flu and coronavirus (COVID-19) vaccines to keep away from a medical-care disaster.
A surge in flu circumstances would put excessive stress on the health-care system, since at the moment about 69,000 Individuals are hospitalized with COVID-19, in response to the Division of Well being and Human Companies.
On Staten Island, the present coronavirus positivity fee is reported to be beneath 2%, and case numbers are dropping. But physicians concern an upturn within the numbers of each flu and COVID as winter approaches and folks start to collect extra indoors.
“We’re extremely recommending it [the flu shot], simply because it could be horrific if we had a flu season and a COVID season collectively,” mentioned Dr. Theodore Unusual, chairman of drugs at Staten Island College Hospital. “There could be no place to handle sufferers.”
Final yr’s flu season produced an awfully low variety of circumstances, largely as a result of individuals had been sporting masks and socially distancing amid a raging coronavirus pandemic.
That resulted in diminished population-level immunity this yr, Dr. Rochelle Walensky, director of the Facilities for Illness Management and Prevention (CDC), defined throughout a White Home press briefing on Wednesday. She famous that many hospitals and intensive care models throughout the nation are at the moment at full capability.
Every year in america, influenza can doubtlessly declare between 12,000 and 52,000 lives, and leads to 140,000 to 710,000 hospitalizations — a toll we have to work arduous to keep away from, Walenski mentioned.
The CDC recommends flu vaccination for anybody who’s 6 months or older, particularly these of any age who’ve continual well being situations, equivalent to bronchial asthma, coronary heart illness, or diabetes; and kids, particularly below 5, who’re prone to extreme issues from the flu.
Those that have but to be vaccinated for COVID-19 can confidently roll up their sleeves and obtain each vaccines on the similar time, Unusual mentioned.
“It’s completely secure to get them on the similar time,’’ she mentioned, noting that it’s even secure to get each vaccines in the identical arm, 10 millimeters aside.
This composition of the flu vaccine modifications from yr to yr as wanted to match circulating flu viruses, which mutate and alter from season to season.
This season, all flu vaccines are “quadrivalent” vaccines, which implies they defend towards 4 totally different flu viruses — an influenza A(H1N1) virus, an influenza A(H3N2) virus, and two influenza B viruses, in response to the CDC.
They work by inflicting antibodies to develop within the physique about two weeks after vaccination. These antibodies present safety towards an infection with circulating influenza viruses.
A PLEA TO GET VACCINATED
Ideally, everybody must be vaccinated by the top of October, the CDC says.
The excellent news this yr is that many individuals are nonetheless sporting a masks indoors and working towards social distancing, Unusual mentioned. “Which will assist us slightly bit. However we nonetheless must get individuals vaccinated.’’
The vaccine doesn’t include a stay virus, Unusual mentioned.
“It’s secure; It’s not a stay protein. It doesn’t trigger the flu,’’ he defined.
It’s additionally free, he mentioned, and might be obtained at most pharmacies, many with out an appointment.
Unusual urged those that are hesitant to obtain both vaccine to show their ideas to others.
“The flu shot is not only about you,’’ Unusual mentioned. “The flu shot is about everybody round you. Why would you even need to take into consideration doubtlessly spreading it to household and mates?”
Getting vaccinated towards flu and towards COVID-19 is one of the simplest ways for individuals keep wholesome, defending themselves, their family members and their communities, Walensky mentioned.
“Now we have rights, I get it,’’ Unusual mentioned. “However we even have obligations, and it’s about balancing each. Similar to COVID, flu shouldn’t be political. It’s a medical illness.’’